What Is Academic Writing: Phrases, Skills, and Tips

Writing

Many scientific organizations pay close attention to their positions in international rankings.

There are many ways to improve those rankings, such as submitting the publications that will be quoted by other scientists. When you defend a thesis or a dissertation, you also contribute to the accreditation of scientific institutions. The one thing those writing instances have in common is their high quality. Whether it is a scientific article or a Master’s thesis, it must be well-written and peer-reviewed in order to be accepted by the scientific community. That is why scientists need to possess an enormous academic writing skills’ armory to be successful in their field. 

Do not succumb to a misconception that academic writing is only about theses and dissertations. Academic writing also includes various essays such as descriptive or argumentative ones.

Not only scientists have to deal with the intricacies of academic writing. Students must write academically as well, especially if they want to do well in their classes. For those who do not want to struggle there is an eternal solution – the academic writing service. You just type “write an essay for me,” and your paper is delivered to you before the set deadline expires.

But again, using the service, although quite helpful, may not always be a viable solution. Who knows at what time and under which circumstances you will be required to deliver high-quality content in the academic setting? Because of this lack of certainty, it is a must to master the academic writing style while you are still in college. This skill will undoubtedly bring you a lot of advantages in both academic and professional settings.  

The Theory of Academic Writing

Academic writing is often considered to be a linguistic competence, as it enables the researcher to read, understand and write scientific texts. It is a well-known fact that the types of written speech differ not only in terms of stylistics but also the addressee.

The concept of addressee in academic writing is quite narrow and specific. Usually it is a professional community that utilizes academic writing as a tool to express their thoughts and ideas.

It should be noted that the afore-mentioned type of writing has several rules that must be followed in any instance. These rules relate to the linguistic and stylistic choices a writer makes.

The first rule refers to scientific communication. Scientific communication must highlight a special position of a researcher. It must be critical and persuasive, but at the same time restrained and respectful.

The second rule has to do with citation ethics. This rule must be adhered to with a particular caution, as there is a risk to be caught plagiarizing. You must always separate other people’s thoughts from your own. Make sure to check the requirements for quotations, references for direct and indirect quotes and bibliography. What is more, you must distinguish between scientific and non-scientific sources. If you follow all these rules, you will ensure the validity of your academic writing. 

In addition, academic style must be non-discriminatory and gender neutral. It means that any statement degrading human dignity as well as a racist, sexist, or contemptuous attitude towards minorities are unacceptable.

As a modern student, you must keep up with the times. It means that you should beware of the outdated rules and phrases. For instance, writing about yourself in the plural form ("We believe" instead of “I believe”) can be the sign of ignorance. If the idea is yours, you can totally say “I think” or “I am of the opinion.” However, this personal pronoun must not be overused, as it can make you sound a bit arrogant.

What Are the Best Phrases to Use in Academic Writing?

Let’s delve more into the topic. What phrases can be used to showcase your academic writing abilities? You may find countless academic phrasebooks on the Internet, but in this article, we would like to focus on the most prominent ones. Generally, their classification corresponds to the academic text structure: introduction, body, and conclusion. There are also so-called linking words, which are designed to join sentences that share the same idea.

The introduction sets the goal for your scientific paper. There you must state its scientific novelty and the significance, the paper’s topicality and the existing findings. The key phrases you can use for the introduction are:

  • In the essay/paper/thesis I will examine/investigate/evaluate/analyze…
  • We carry out the analysis to identify…
  • It is important to emphasize…
  • A persistent theme in...is…

These are the most widespread phrases used in the introductory part. However, their usage does not automatically classify your paper as academic. The main function of the academic paper is to inform, i.e. to collect and share the scientific information. That information is divided into semantic blocks to make the text more accessible. The information must be presented in a logical sequence, as it makes the text feel complete and coherent. The conclusions must rely not only on research, but also the new findings that were derived by the author themselves.

As for the body part of the academic writing, it must include phrases which intend to prove your hypothesis. Among them are “I believe that there are several reasons...”; “Firstly, secondly…”; “It is now clear that ... “; “Let us turn our attention to…”; “Scientifically/Historically speaking…”, etc.

Cohesion words (therefore, however, furthermore, additionally, in addition, although, thus, like, as a result, etc.) and lexical units, which allow you to establish a relationship between the arguments (contrast, comparison, example, confirmation, agreement/disagreement, etc.) are the most common means of a linguistic influence. These tools allow you to present the material in a logical way via induction (forming conclusions based on specific facts), deduction (forming conclusions based on the general idea), analogy (comparison of similar phenomena, events, facts), and contrast (comparison of polar phenomena, events, facts).

The conclusion part can be considered the most important one as it must summarize all your thoughts and ideas regarding the issue. It is your final opinion, and it can be shared or criticized by others. At this point you must use phrases that will support and clarify your position: “The arguments given above prove…,”; “Our study sheds light on the process…”; “The hypotheses were tested using…,” etc.

Logic, objectivity, informational content, reasoning, and coherence are all qualities that must be found in your academic writing.  

Improving Academic Writing Skills

Check out nine basic ways to improve your academic writing style:

  1. Use ACTIVE VOICE.
  2. Follow the rules of PUNCTUATION.
  3. Vary your SENTENCE STRUCTURE.
  4. Avoid CHOPPINESS, make sure your text flows.
  5. Avoid REPETITION.
  6. Be CONCISE.
  7. Use VOCABULARY that you know.
  8. Work on expanding your VOCABULARY.
  9. Keep the language FORMAL and avoid colloquialisms.

It is worth mentioning that academic writing is a long and complicated process which requires concentration as well as diligence. Moreover, this kind of work implies several stages that mean to combine various concepts into one coherent text. This practice is called structuring, and it is extremely important in academic writing.

At the first stage you must select your topic. Yes, it is quite an obvious step, but it is harder than you might think. You cannot just choose your topic on a whim. You must align it with your teacher’s expectations as well as your personal preferences.

Despite the fact that universities may impose their own ideas on you, you must be able to stand your ground. That’s because you will have more success as a researcher when you are fond of the chosen topic. Otherwise, you will not be able to put all your knowledge and passion into your paper, and it will not turn out as good as it could have been.

The second stage which can help you improve your academic writing skills has to do with your analytical skills, sorry for tautology. Analytical skills entail the topic analysis, its development, as well as the search for ideas you are eager to expose.

According to the American experts, there are several methods which contribute to the analytical skills’ improvement. The most effective ones are cubing, Matrix, and 20 questions.

Cubing implies looking at the topic from six various sides, just like looking at a cube. This system allows you to consider the problem from all sides. In the process, you use methods such as description, comparison, association, practical application, and argumentation.

The matrix approach involves creating a table which is filled with info through and through. Every cell should contain arguments which support your main idea. You should analyze them accordingly.

As for the method of 20 questions, it is considered to be the most entertaining – it is a kind of an interview where you ask 20 questions and try to answer them immediately.

It must be noted that all these methods are designed not only to improve your analytical skills but also to help you find ideas for your academic paper.

The next stage includes structuring the key ideas, formulating a thesis and creating a plan. You need to pay close attention to this stage as it defines the whole structure of your work as well as the writing process itself. Here, you must apply your knowledge of literally everything including the academic writing phrases, vocabulary, structure, etc. It is high time you prepared yourself for writing the high-quality content.

After going through these stages, you can start your writing. There is a high likelihood that your paper will be a success. However, you must remember that there's no end to perfection. Practice, in this case, is the only solution.

What About Practice? Tips on IELTS Academic Writing

IELTS

If you think that the above-mentioned information was only for entertainment or theory, you are wrong. The evidence for that is IELTS. Let’s take a closer look.

IELTS is an international exam that means to determine your level of English. It comes in two forms – general and academic. IELTS Academic is a must for all students who are eager to study abroad and for all scientists who want to participate in international conferences. As you can see, IELTS is essential when it comes to your career and educational success.

It is your chance to showcase all the knowledge that you have been gathering for a long time. One of the most complicated tasks of IELTS is writing. There are many niceties which you should take into consideration while completing the task. One small mistake due to the lack of attention and awareness can cost you a fortune (well, at least, the opportunity to study at the university of your dream). In addition to the information mentioned earlier, you should consider the following factors:

  • Effective time-management is the key to success. You have two parts of IELTS writing and only 60 minutes. Experts advise to allocate about 20% of time to the first task and about 40% to the second.
  • Read the tasks carefully. Many students do not take enough time to read through the tasks and end up overlooking important requirements.
  • Use the right phrases and words. These have been mentioned earlier but do not limit yourself only to those. On the one hand, your writing should not be packed with abstruse collocations, but on the other hand, it should contain words and phrases that demonstrate the depth of your English language knowledge. Try to keep the balance.

Moreover, while preparing for an academic module of IELTS, study all possible variants of diagrams and tables. Many forget that IELTS Academic writing consists of two tasks, with the first one requiring you to describe various charts or diagrams. In this case, you need to pay close attention to vocabulary. Remember special constructions that will help you transition smoothly between the ideas, compare and contrast various concepts.

Generally, the devil is not so black as he is painted. But it does not mean that you should not prepare yourself for the meeting with him. Just take into consideration the information presented here and do not limit yourself to one source. Do not fear the development – feat the stagnation.

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